Monday, June 11, 2018

Interview with grief recovery specialist Anne-Marie Lockmyer

Writer Anne-Marie Lockmyer is sitting under the spotlight today. She’s sharing a bit about her self-help book on working through grief, When Their World Stops: The Essential Guide to Truly Helping Anyone in Grief.

Anne-Marie Lockmyer is an award-winning author, speaker, Advanced Grief Recovery and Loss Specialist, and Founder of the Grief and Trauma Healing Network. Her work has appeared in notable media outlets such as Rolling Stone, LA Wave, and Billboard. She has been a featured speaker at multiple venues. She specializes in taking others through the journey of recovery - to be free from the pain of grief and loss. As a widow who suffered a devastating loss herself, Anne-Marie is passionate to dispel the myths of grief and bring hope, encouragement, and resources to those suffering from grief and those that care for them and want to help. Her mission is to bring individuals hope in the midst of pain and provide tools that help people experience joy in their lives once again. 

Welcome, Anne-Marie. Please tell us about your current release.
Have a grieving friend and don't know what to say or do? No more fear, embarrassment or walking on eggshells. This 8-time award-winning book increases your understanding of what the grieving one is experiencing and feeling. It equips you to say the right things and avoid saying the wrong things, be supportive with appropriate actions and gifts, offer encouragement during the holidays, write a lovely message in a sympathy card and so much more. Included is an exclusive reminder list for the first year of grief as well as a cheat-sheet. This easy to read practical guidebook is packed with all you need to increase your confidence and take the awkwardness out of responding to someone devastated by grief.

What inspired you to write this book?
The sudden death of my husband. As I went through my journey of grief, I realized, very early on, that people had no idea what to do with me. They were awkward and uncomfortable and didn’t know what they should be doing or saying. Because of that, many unintentionally hurt me at a time when I was already in pain. I realized that I had wounded many of my friends in the past who had suffered loss because I had no idea what they needed. I had a lot of apologizing to do. Until you have been through it, you just don’t understand, even though you care and want to help. I wanted to change that awkwardness into confidence. I kept saying that someone should put together a pamphlet on how to handle a grieving person. Well that pamphlet turned into a book. This book.

Excerpt from When Their World Stops: The Essential Guide to Truly Helping Anyone in Grief:
Remember: Their World Has Stopped
For your grieving friend, the world has stopped. This loss is huge. They are probably in shock. So right now, just come alongside and be with them. Be sad with them. This is incredibly difficult for most of us, as we want to “fix it” and we can’t. How can you fix a broken heart? Don’t try. The hardest thing to do is to simply be quiet and just be there. But don’t try to “fix it” or make your grieving friend feel better. You can’t!

           Let Them Grieve Their Own Way
Whatever your friend is doing as they are dealing with their grief is NORMAL. It’s critical to understand: There is no “right way” to grieve. The grieving person may even do or say strange things; that’s normal. I found myself joking about my husband’s death at times. I’m sure some people thought my comments were inappropriate, but it was my way of dealing with what had been handed to me.

What Not to Say Matters
DO NOT say that the loss was for the best because your grieving friend’s loved one was suffering or that God has a purpose in the loss or that God needed the loved one in Heaven or that it’s fortunate the loss was quick or that at least your grieving friend had warning of the death to come or that the person who died lived a full life and will never hurt again or that time heals all wounds or that had the deceased person lived they would never have been the same or that it’s “time to get on with your life” or that “you will have another child” or “you will get married again.” These platitudes don’t make your friend feel better.

And please: Don’t tell your grieving friend that you can relate (even if you can). This type of statement puts the focus on you instead of them. One of my friends, who had lost her brother in a tragic accident, was told: “At least you didn’t have to watch him die like I did when my dad died from cancer. Your situation was like a Band-Aid being taken off quickly to cause less pain. I watched my dad die a little every day for months. At least you went through it quickly.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
My new understanding of grief and loss has led me to discover that we experience grief over losses other than death. At the time of my husband’s death, I was also dealing with an adult son who had been struggling with mental health for 6 years and I soon realized that there was an awful lot of grieving going on through that experience as well. I was experiencing the loss of all the hopes and dreams I had for my son. Processing that grief was transforming for me and our relationship so I would like to write a book of encouragement, hope and tools to help those who love someone struggling with mental health. To help them acknowledge and process those emotions so that they can be better and their relationships can be better. As much as the death of my husband devastated me, watching my son struggle daily was like watching him die a bit each day, and that was even more painful.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I realized I had something to say and went to start writing and it just flowed out. It just poured out of me.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I love writing but haven’t had much time until recently to do more of it, except for blogs. I am an advanced certified grief and loss specialist and also certified in critical incident stress debriefing. I work with individuals and groups on grief and loss recovery due to over 40 different types of losses one can experience in their lifetime. I speak to educate others on grief and loss. I support the grieving and those that want to help them. I consult with businesses on how to create a healthy workplace through recognizing the impact of grief and loss on employees. I like to say I help heal broken hearts.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can add a light touch to some very heavy topics. Even though the topics are serious, I have to add some light and humorous moments. This is what keeps me sane in all the pain I see continually. It is not done disrespectfully, but to give a momentary reprieve.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think it is amazing that things that can destroy you can actually be used to not only strengthen you but to encourage and strengthen others by your new understanding and ability to relate to their pain and experience. I wish there was an easier way.


No comments: